ESPN have reported there is a major contractual dispute following an attempt by SK Gaming to poach Luminosity’s CSGO team, the number one ranked team in the world.
Shortly prior to the MLG Columbus Major, which Luminosity won, the players reportedly signed contracts with SK to go into effect on July 1st, despite having signed letters of intent to stay with Luminosity for two years in December 2015. Since the Major however the Brazilian squad has had a change of heart, deciding that they feel more comfortable continuing under the organisation in which they made their name. The team claims the contracts were signed under pressure from SK and the promise of legal protection against any action from Luminosity. Since contracts were indeed signed, however, it is now SK who are threatening legal action against the players.
On Luminosity’s part, CEO Steve Maida heavily criticised the approach taken by SK in contacting the players, stating that SK Gaming managing director Alex Müller “continued to proposition, bribe, manipulate and con my players, of whom only a few speak English, and did so with no legal representation. He never informed me he was doing this behind my back”.
There is no universal rule against poaching in CS:GO, and cases are typically handled on a case-by-case basis by individual leagues. However, ESPN report that E-League are aware of the situation and that they are currently in the process of reviewing any necessary action.
Meanwhile, critics of the somewhat controversial World Esports Association may not have any of their doubts eased by this report, as questions regarding their impartiality were raised despite their lack of direct involvement. SK Gaming’s legal representative was originally Pietro Fringuelli, WESA Interim Commissioner. Fringuelli reportedly removed himself from the case after being approached by all parties regarding the blatant conflict of interest.
While WESA as an organisation are not officially involved in this case, Fringuelli isn’t the only connection. WESA executive board member and ESL CEO Ralf Reichert is also a partner in SK Gaming. Luminosity CEO Steve Maida alleged that after discussing the situation with Reichert, he “claimed ignorance and said he has no power,” but that while Maida doesn’t know whether Reichert had direct involvement with the attempted poaching, it “doesn’t look good” that he didn’t take action. Reichert stated Thursday on Twitter that he has made an agreement to sell his shares in SK, a move that Maida described as “damage control”.
You can read ESPN’s full report on the situation here.